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Thread: The 40 minute pepperoni bear

  1. #1
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    Dec 2016
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    The 40 minute pepperoni bear

    This won't be a super photo heavy thread like they usually are. I've received criticism about photos being too graphic for a public forum before so I'll mostly stick to the story this time despite having some interesting photos of the damage properly tuned arrows are capable of inflicting. Pour yourself a coffee (or bourbon) for this one though!


    So last season I had gone out a few times in April but was too early. I went out again with my son on May long weekend and found no bears but loads of one to two week old sign. We went out again in June and I tagged my spring bear then but from what I had seen the 2nd weekend of May should be a real party in the burn I hunt. It seems as though I was right!


    My 2020 spring bear season began last Thursday. I had loaded up my pack the night before with the intentions of taking Friday off, I planned to leave work early Thursday so I could drive the 3.5 hours to my hunting spot, make the hike up into the bear sanctuary, drop camp and hunt the following 3 days, returning Sunday. The ultimate game plan was to rinse and repeat every weekend or two until I connected. I filled up a jerry can, made sure I had everything I needed to be fully self sufficient for both the hunt and the trip there and back and made the drive up in the early May heat with Ted Nugent's "Fred Bear" playing in the background for a touch of extra good luck.




    I arrived at the trail head around 3:45, I knew I should fuel up before starting my hike so I powered back a blueberry bagel, pounded back some water, refilled my bottle from the creek and took a quick inventory to triple check that I had everything before hiking in. I locked up the vehicle, strapped on my pack and at 4:20 I started the grind up to the top of the same burn I had hunted the previous spring.


    It's a relatively short hike to the top, only 2.5km as the crow flies up an old fire road but it's steep in sections and really overgrown. The first km is very damp, shady alder patches with a lot of elevation gain and in my experience the bears don't hang out down there. With a pack full of gear and the steep nature of the terrain it generally takes me 20-30 minutes to cover that, once I'm passed that the terrain opens up quite a bit and that's where the burn begins. Imposing stands of towering ponderosa pines scarred by a fire that blazed through over 16 years ago dominate the hills up here, many bearing claw marks from countless bears over the years. At the right time of spring it's not uncommon to find "bear piles" every 20-30 yards as well as winter moose nuggets with the odd spring moose patty thrown in for good measure. The cutblocks are filled with mule deer droppings and in spring the muley does are dropping fawns in the area. Just before I hit the bottom of the burn I spotted some discarded bottles and trash at a pullout and took note, figuring if I came out empty on Sunday I would load that up and bring it with me. I broke the alders and began to feel the sun at the base of the burn, it was a beautiful afternoon but I figured it was pretty warm for a bear to be out right now, for the time being I would just focus on getting to camp, making a water run, then hunt the evening and get some morel/shed hunting in come morning.


    About 50 yards past the base of the burn the thimble berry bushes start and they provide a bit of a tunnel with some pretty lush grass. I saw right away it was all nipped down. Another 30 yards and I saw a good sized loaf on the ground, not crazy fresh but from the past few days for sure. I walked about 20 more yards and was approaching a bend in the fire road which would begin to bring me up above the bottom of the burn. The road has 4 switchbacks, gaining elevation the whole time. There are stands of ponderosas, cutblocks with "Christmas tree" reprod as well as alders and thimble berries lining the roads with grassy landings here and there. As the road began to curve I noticed a black shop glove on the ground and thought to myself "hey those are the same gloves I use, someone must have processed one here recently." As I was shaking my head at the fact that they couldn't be bothered to bring out their trash with them and making another mental note for the way down I began to hear what sounded like the initial static of a lighting bolt to my right. I looked up and through the brush I saw something black shimmying up a tree under 30 yards away. Hmm that looks like a bear...already though?? I nocked an arrow and slowly walked to my left and cleared the brush. I must have bumped the bear off the road and it ran to the timber and hit the closest tree...maybe it's a sign my beard is getting a bit long and I'm starting to look like a hound dog.

    The sound I heard was it running up the bark of an unburned pine, the black fur against the lighter bark stood out and I could see that it wasn't a huge bear. I watched it staring at me with drool pouring out of its mouth, it huffed a couple times and popped its jaws at me, 2 or 3 times it tried to climb down but I was able to scare it back up each time. I still wasn't sure if I wanted to shoot this bear and I had to be sure there were no cubs around, this was most definitely a "pepperoni bear" as they say and I knew it was either a young boar or a sow. I listened carefully and watched the surrounding trees just in case for what seemed like an eternity but I was in no rush. I didn't necessarily want to end my hunt already but I also knew there was a good chance I could hunt the 3 days and only see sows with cubs or nothing at all, don't pass up anything you would shoot on the last day right? Especially when you have two tags and you're in the fawning zone. I also considered the pack out, this would be much easier than a big slob from the top of the burn with all my camp gear. After a while of facing off and listening to the stillness of the forest aside from the bear's occasional huffs and jaw popping I decided I would take this bear, I have 2 tags anyway and with a bit of a top up to the freezer I can be much more selective with my second tag...
    Last edited by 45freezer; 05-13-2020 at 08:23 PM.
    "You can learn more about hunting with a bow in a week than you could in a lifetime of gun hunting" - Fred Bear

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  3. #2
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    Re: The 40 minute pepperoni bear

    Right around the same time I made that decision I also remembered I had a GoPro on my head and hit record. I drew back and as I did it ran up the tree a bit more, I let down and let it settle. I knew this would be a top pin shot but just out of curiosity I pulled out the rangefinder and checked the yardage. I watched it drooling and snapping its jaws in 4x magnification as the screen read 22 meters (24 yards.) I put the rangefinder back in my bino harness, clipped in my release and drew back. I floated my pin on its chest, pulled through the shot and watched my arrow fly through its bicep and into the chest cavity with an echoing crack. It dropped out of the tree like a stone, falling approximately 15 feet and didn't move after landing. I thought to myself "wow, I've seen bears die quick from an arrow but that was unreal!" Almost a full 20 seconds went by and all of a sudden it was getting to its feet and trying to hobble off. I immediately nocked another arrow (a valuable lesson I won't forget to always nock another arrow immediately after letting the first one go...I had never actually been able to take a follow up shot before in the terrain I hunt) and drew back again. The bear was halfway obscured by brush but at this point I needed to finish what I started. I knew the first shot would be lethal but felt an immediate responsibility to end things as quickly as possible. It appeared to me that I missed the second shot, I nocked another arrow and drew back again. More brush in the way, I shuffled around until I had a softball sized lane to thread the needle through and just before I could shoot again the bear rolled behind the brush. I let down and stepped to my right to clear the brush, when I let down I must have done it a bit aggressively because my arrow came halfway un-nocked. I fixed that and drew back once again. The bear was in front of a log about 14 yards away, I took aim, let a 3rd arrow fly and heard a solid thwack as the bear rolled once again, I had no idea where that one hit but it sounded good. The bear began stumbling through a window in the brush and I could see a massive gash on its right side, its ribs were wide open and I knew it should be dead any second now but couldn't believe it was still trying to get away. All my bears so far had taken one arrow and died in short order but this one seemed to have the constitution of a bull for some reason. It sat down beside a tree 10 yards away and squared off with me through the brush. I drew back with my 4th arrow out of a 5 arrow quiver and aimed for the pumphouse, the arrow made a loud whack as it impacted, the bear spun around and dove behind the tree. I watched and listened for a few seconds before I started to see one of the Christmas trees swaying. It was still trying to high tail it, at this point I was in utter disbelief. I nocked my last arrow, fully aware of the fact that it would be my last line of defense if an ornery grizzer bar was brave enough to try and claim the meat while I was field dressing or if I had a problem bear on the way out. I prayed that I wouldn't have to use it and that the tree would stop moving soon. A few seconds later I heard the "death moan"...good, this rodeo is almost over. I figured I would give it another 10-15 minutes longer and then go process it. I stood in silence for 15 minutes as I processed what just happened. That was definitely the smallest bear I had ever shot but had proved itself to be the toughest by a long shot. After 15 minutes I slowly began creeping over, I had taken my last shot from 10 yards and it had only moved one or two yards from there when it dove behind the tree. When I got within 5 yards I saw the Christmas tree begin to move again, I still could not believe there was any life left in this beast but I backed out to go drop my gear at the vehicle and come back with a lighter pack. Due to the short pack in I had brought a few luxury items and things had just got western on the side of the mountain with a 55lb pack on without me even knowing it. If that ain't a sales pitch for the kifaru duplex I don't know what is! It was now 5:20pm and thankfully I hadn't double punched the record button on the GoPro. The footage was 20 minutes long, I had just punched a tag in 40 minutes and had most definitely set a new personal record as far as time in the field for a tag.



    I dropped my camp bag back at the vehicle and took everything out of the pack that I wouldn't need for processing. I loaded up my kill kit, camera gear, 1x trekking pole and a couple insulation layers and headed back up the hill. Was a bit of a slap in the face having hiked up and down with all my gear for 3 days of backcountry camping for no reason at all but I wasn't complaining. I looked at the clock and it was 5:45, still making good time. When I got back up to the curve in the road, the bear was dead right beside the tree. I was curious to check where all I had hit but first wanted to piece together the crime scene.
    Last edited by 45freezer; 05-12-2020 at 09:58 AM.
    "You can learn more about hunting with a bow in a week than you could in a lifetime of gun hunting" - Fred Bear

  4. #3
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    Re: The 40 minute pepperoni bear

    It's amazing how much different things look once the adrenaline wears off. I began backtracking where it had ran, keeping my eyes open for blood and arrows. I found one arrow in a log, clean with no blood. It turned out this was my 3rd shot, the one with the solid whack, apparently I had missed as the bear rolled. I found another arrow right by it, this one was broken off at the tip but had blood from the broken tip to the nock. I walked towards the tree it was in for the initial shot...or so I thought until I started questioning which tree it had even been in. I figured it out and found another half an arrow covered in blood. I took a quick poke around for any other arrows or fragments but that was all I found. I also didn't find one drop of blood on the ground despite the massive amount of damage inflicted, in my experience this is not out of the ordinary for spring bears. Never count on blood to find your bear, if you shoot at a bear and don't find blood by no means does that mean you did not make a hit.

    I placed the arrows back in my quiver and looked around for a nice dragging stick. Tied a piece of 1.8mm guyline around each end of the stick and the other end of the lines to each of the front paws and dragged it to the road. These pepperoni bears sure are a lot more manageable for a solo hunter than the big boys! Got it to the road and spent a few minutes getting photos. I had rushed that last time and made sure I got a good photo to capture the memory this time. When I looked at it later I wondered where my smile was and realized this was my first big game animal harvested without my son beside me. I started hunting late in life and he's been along for the entire journey so I guess it was kind of bittersweet not having him to celebrate with. Either way though, proud moment and without him there I guess it was my first truly "solo" bear.

    "You can learn more about hunting with a bow in a week than you could in a lifetime of gun hunting" - Fred Bear

  5. #4
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    Dec 2016
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    Re: The 40 minute pepperoni bear

    Photos taken, time to open it up and get things sorted out. Got the guts out and the shadows were beginning to get a bit long. Decided this bear was small enough to attempt to get it out whole in one trip. I laid down my pack frame, rolled it on top and buckled it in for the ride with a DIY "grab it" I made over the winter. Time to really test these sewing skills! Cinched the nomad down around it, put the frame on my shoulders and after a couple "turtle on its back" moves I managed to get to my feet.





    It was a heavy load for sure but manageable...don't skip leg day kids! I slowly made my way down the mountain with high spirits, looking forward to finally sitting down with a hot meal. Got back to the vehicle just as the temps were really starting to drop, I always keep a thermometer in my bag so I pulled it out and watched the temps drop from 24c to 1c in short order. Decided with temps that cool I would spend the night there and head out first thing in the morning.



    First light came and I made a coffee, ate breakfast and popped the bear into the trunk of my 2 door cavalier...for a small car they have a great amount of trunk space and are excellent on gas

    By 10am Friday I was back in the city and brought the bear to work to skin and quarter it. Spent all day Saturday and Sunday cleaning and cutting meat and finally got to relax with a bourbon and tonic Sunday night.



    During the necropsy I found that my first arrow had broken the humerus right in half and punched through a rib to take out at least one lung before lodging itself in the spine. The 2nd shot was not in fact a miss but a clean pass through and was the one that had opened the massive hole in the ribcage. The 3rd shot was a clean miss and was the one I found in the log. The 4th shot had entered the left side of the clavicle and exited in front of the right ham. All 3 hits would have been lethal shots and the fact that this animal had so much "grrr" in it was impressive. I have an incredible amount of respect for how tough these animals are and their will to live.

    Not sure how much meat I got in total but I have a 2nd tag and I'm restocked on burger to tide me over until I find a big bruiser now. By no means was this a "trophy bear" by most peoples standards but I definitely wouldn't trade my 10 to 24 yard experience with this bear for a 20" bruiser from 300 yards with a rifle.




    Anyone else getting out for archery spring bear this year? Any other solo bear hunters on here? It's an acquired taste for sure but I personally love it and don't plan on stopping any time soon.
    Last edited by 45freezer; 05-13-2020 at 08:16 AM.
    "You can learn more about hunting with a bow in a week than you could in a lifetime of gun hunting" - Fred Bear

  6. #5
    Join Date
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    Re: The 40 minute pepperoni bear

    Awesome story! Well written. Congrats.
    Is Justin Competent, or just incompetent?

  7. #6
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    Re: The 40 minute pepperoni bear

    thanks for taking us on your hunt...felt almost like I was there...

  8. #7
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    Re: The 40 minute pepperoni bear

    Again well done on the bear, your mastering bear hunting for sure...

  9. #8
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    Re: The 40 minute pepperoni bear

    Well done. Thanks for posting.
    Quote Originally Posted by ElectricDyck View Post
    ....i dont buy FN fish ..its like buying your stolen tools back from a crack head..

  10. #9
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    Re: The 40 minute pepperoni bear

    Nice Work!
    Love the backpack bear too!

    Cheers,
    Nog
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVNNhzkJ-UU&feature=related

    Egotistical, Self Centered, Son of a Bitch Killer that Doesn't Play Well With Others.

    Guess he got to Know me

  11. #10
    Join Date
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    Re: The 40 minute pepperoni bear

    Well done. Thanks for posting
    Last edited by barongan; 05-12-2020 at 12:22 PM.

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